Four Responses to Hurricane Florence
God’s Sovereignty in Storms
The weather is more than just small talk this week. Important questions have been rising concerning how to prepare or think about the storm. Online resources have been helpful in determining how to prepare in areas like Greenville, but how do you think about this situation with a Biblical worldview?
There is definitely comfort knowing that God is in control of the winds and the waves (Matthew 8:27), but for what purpose could God bring about such a storm? I do not have an exhaustive list by any means, but under the premise that this event is not random and that God is in fact using all things for His glory, how should we view this storm? And how should we respond in light of those thoughts?
1. A reminder to take shelter.
There is an immediately clear response that comes to the surface: take shelter. Despite the clear warnings, many have stayed in the evacuation areas. One family in particular is staying because they believe God will protect them. Others are staying simply because they don’t see the storm as much of a threat or not worth the inconvenience of moving. But is that how God wants us to respond?
God in fact wants us to respond to the warnings. It is a bit of a stretch, but there is a picture here of how many will feel on the Day of Judgment. Having not listened to the warnings and not prepared for impending destruction, they will be surprised and left asking for help after it is too late.
There is also beauty in this imagery, knowing that those who do take refuge are safe. Spiritually, there is safety from destruction when we take shelter in God. Psalm 34:8 states it well, “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”
2. An opportunity to show love.
Whenever we face negative circumstances, there is a natural tendency to become bitter or frustrated towards God, doubting parts of His character such as His goodness and compassion. What would add to the tragedy is if the lack of love shown from the Christian community confirms that negative view of God in their mind.
Difficulties are always an opportunity. If we believe God can use difficult situations for good, shouldn’t we be actively seeking out ways that God can use us a means to that end?
Some Christian communities have already begun to help. A Christian camp in North Carolina has turned its facilities into an evacuation center, churches are emptying their food pantries and providing shelter, and some are already planning to see what they can do to aid the relief crews.
3. A push to re-prioritize.
As tragedy strikes it forces us to reevaluate what is important. If a storm wipes away our house, it causes us to consider the value of material things. When destruction is made visible, it causes us to consider where our safety resides.
Often what seems a tragedy is later looked back on as a blessing. God may have taken away something that we treasured and in the end brought us to something better. In a situation like Hurricane Florence, the value of what is temporary begins to fade and what is eternal begins to take its rightful place in our focus.
Charles Spurgeon testified of this blessing through tragedy when he said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” Paul likewise praised God for His blessings that shine through struggles. Despite the shipwrecks, beatings, persecution, weaknesses, and calamities, Paul was still content because he knew God was sovereignly structuring that suffering in order to strengthen him (2 Corinthians 12:10).
4. A means of growth.
Ginny Graves wrote an article, explaining the benefit of tragedy and encouraging the readers to “make friends with failure.” PTG (post-traumatic growth) is what Richard Tedeschi’s has termed it. He explains that “with post-traumatic growth, a person who has faced difficult challenges doesn’t just return to baseline, which is what happens with resilience.” He says, “They change in fundamental, sometimes dramatic ways.”
All of that is to say, God can use tragedies for His glory, and we should do what we can to take part in it. Post-traumatic glory is the goal.